Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

From: Brian Sewell, London W8

Q. Moths have progressively over the past 15 years eaten both my one respectable suit and my dinner jacket. I bought both when I went to South Africa in 1982, where I was lecturing, teaching and required to appear at dinner parties. They have stood me in good stead but they have been to the invisible menders so often that they are now almost all visible mending and very little suit. As a consequence I have for some time refused all invitations. I feel that professionally I should appear from time to time at Boodles and the Oxford Union and wave a flag for the Evening Standard but I can't even go to an 'At home' for Lord Rothermere. I no longer know what a good suit is, I am so out of the habit of buying clothes. I don't want to look like dapper Ian Hislop in a waistcoat with lapels and a jacket with four buttons. He goes to Hackers. Where should I go? I don't know what to ask for. I simply don't know how to dress myself other than as a frump.

A. In a backlash to the Gordon Brown passive pomposity incident, in which he failed to wear black tie at the Lord Mayor's banquet, correct dress is once again de rigueur amongst thinkers. You need only walk into Huntsman at 11 Savile Row and announce, 'I want exactly what the Duke of Beaufort has.' By emulating England's premier arbiter of taste there is no possibility of your making a sartorial gaffe. Should budgeting be a problem, however, why not telephone the Boden catalogue (0181 453 1535) and order a dark navy plain-weave suit for only 220? The cost could be waived should you be prepared to follow the example of Sir Peregrine Worsthorne by modelling in their next catalogue, where your caption reading `Brian, art critic' could also provide you with handy extra publicity.

From Robin Hanbury-Tenison, The Countryside Alliance, London SE11

Q. I travel a good deal and meet many people. These range from French and Italians to Siberians, Canadians and indigenous hunter-gatherers in South America and south-east Asia. How do I explain to them that my current job is defending shooting, fishing and hunting when, to any culture except the Anglo-Saxon, this sounds so eccentric - like having a job defending eating, drinking and breathing?

A. Travel with a battery-driven camcorder which can show indigenes film of July's Countryside Rally in Hyde Park. On the stage, addressing the kind-faced masses, you will come across as a godlike creature defending one set of tribespeople against another more numerous group who have lost their knowledge of the workings of the land. …

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